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by Michael Zielenziger, AARP Bulletin, June 9, 2009
The National Park Service will allow free admission over three weekends this summer at 147 National Park Service sites across the country. The fees will be waived June 20-21, July 18-19, and Aug. 15-16.
National parks can provide an affordable vacation for families in tough economic times, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said during the announcement earlier this month. At the same time, he said, they “serve as powerful economic engines for local communities, and we hope that promoting visitation will give a small shot in the arm to businesses in the area.”
The declaration means, for instance, that travelers need not pay the normal $25 per vehicle entrance fee at Grand Canyon National Park, which is among the 147 sites that charge from $3 to $25 for admission. The 244 other sites do not charge entrance fees. The free weekend waiver does not include fees for camping, reservations, tours or concessions, which are provided by Park Service contractors.
Salazar said many park partners—including tour operators, hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other vendors—will offer additional discounts and special promotions on those dates.
The Park Service is also receiving federal stimulus funds to upgrade trails, conduct maintenance and upgrade services throughout the system, Salazar said.
Michael Zielenziger writes on economic and consumer issues for AARP Bulletin Today.
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